How's Your ATM-GTM-Ball Weight?

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 11:26
ThreadID: 134389 Views:4117 Replies:6 FollowUps:31
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I know this gets a regular run on Exploroz and the numbers in the article won't surprise some but thought it might be of interest to van and camper trailer tuggers. Boasting in regard to the third option will be let through to the keeper.

"Cops take action on overweight caravans"

Obviously this was an awareness campaign but given the results it probably won't be long before regular mobile checks are conducted and fines handed out.
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Reply By: TomH - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 12:13

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 12:13
The actual Traffic Sergeant who conducted it posts regularly on the Caravaners Forum and there is quite a bit of information on there about it.
Is certainly about time something was done about it and there is also a discussion on whether a licence to tow should be introduced.
Yes fines should be dished out. Two instances come to mind, A Prado towing a 24ft Jayco and he said we have everything in it even a top loader home washing machine. He also had his breakaway attached in a way that it could never work. Another one at Jurien bay that admitted his van went over 3700kg on the back of a 100ser which was chocka and had a tinny plus outboard and fuel on the roof.
Overweight " No she'll be right who cares" About time someone did.
We were beside a woman in Boulder and she had a drive through site with an Avan. I asked why she was paying extra when it would fit on a cheaper site. "Oh I cant reverse a van" She said and have to get someone to do it for me if no drive throughs.
Well I ask you.
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Follow Up By: Supersi - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 18:16

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 18:16
And the company's selling vans need to be pulled into line too!

It was abundantly clear at the recent Melbourne caravan show, sales people recommending vans way too heavy. It was the oh, your vehicle can tow 3.5 ton, it will be fine. No discussion about what other load in the vehicle might be impacting the end result.

Until the road crash statistics really highlight an issue it's going to be slow going with the regulators enforcing change.
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Follow Up By: Batt's - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 02:58

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 02:58
Supersi so what if they were recommending the wrong vans it's entirely and lawfully up to the driver of the vehicle to take responsibility for the purchase of the correct van to suit. Also it's the drivers responsibility to ensure they have the correct size vehicle before purchasing the van after all they should have done their homework on what would suit their needs ? It's all to common these days that people have no concern or care about their actions in what they do and just take the easy way out and blame others for their mistakes.

Nobody that sells vans is holding a gun to your head forcing you to buy it. Also it's just pure laziness if they leave all the responsibility to the seller to select the van they should be towing those people should seriously not be towing it's not rocket science to figure out what is safe to tow using common sense which is becoming a thing of the past we are suppose to be getting smarter not dumber.

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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 18:06

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 18:06
Hi Bratt

Supersi is correct mate. Just done the rounds looking for a van, and many just want to sell you the van no matter what the consequences. Read about it in the lemon caravan facebook site. Afterwards they don't want to know you.
There are numerous examples of the stated tare weight just being wrong (as in understated making customers believe they have a bigger payload). My neighbour has experienced this personally - he was so much overweight when settingout on his trip, that he had to empty his watertanks. He eventuall stripped all his payload items from the van down to Tare, and had it weighed severel 100 kg over the plate weight.
There are a few good operators that actually weigh their vans before registering them, and giving real advice on tow vehicle's capacity to tow their vans.
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Follow Up By: Member - Roachie - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 18:47

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 18:47
Batt's, technically you are 100% correct.....the buyer (tow vehicle operator) has the final responsibility to ensure he/she is driving a totally legal set-up.

However, you only have to spend an afternoon in a caravan see the level of mental understanding (mostly non-existent) of a vast proportion of the numpties who are dragging these bloody things from one end of the country to the other.

As a truck driver, I realise I HAVE to know what my axle loadings, GVM/GCM are at any given time.....but I seriously doubt that a LOT of caravan purchasers would have the slightest clue.

A hell-of-a-lot of buyers are first time "towers" and take the word of the "expert caravan seller" that their Ford Ranger (fully equipped with steel bullbar, canopy, winch, long range tank, dual spare wheels on the rear bar etc) is okay. The bloke TOLD them the Ford Ranger (or whatever brand of "truck" they've bought) has a 3,500kg tow rating and this van has a ATM of 3, what's the problem??? They (the owners) simply do not understand the dynamics of the lethal combination they are tootling down the road in.

So, I reckon the caravan sales people have a duty of care to satisfy themselves that the intended van is "WITHIN" the legal capabilities of the intended tow vehicle.

As for expertise??? Don't get me started.

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Follow Up By: Batt's - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 19:22

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 19:22
Thanks Roachie I think that pretty much sums it up. Maybe people who tow vans should have to get a truck licence and get some experience carting loads first because some really do need help to understand how and why things can be done a lot safer when loading and towing.

It also seems that us people who have driven trucks actually do have a better understanding and knowledge about what our responsibilities are when we are behind the wheel than a minority that are always ready to blame others for their actions. But still we all drive on he same roads and have supposedly at some time read the rules and responsibilities of becoming a licenced driver makes ya wonder.

An old saying comes to mind if I tell you to put your head in the oven are you going to do it without checking the oven first.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 20:39

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 20:39
It's a shame truck drivers don't seem to get their head around the height of their trucks.

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Follow Up By: Batt's - Saturday, Mar 04, 2017 at 03:55

Saturday, Mar 04, 2017 at 03:55
How ironic and amusing is it that you have that quote from Ali below your response well done.
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Saturday, Mar 04, 2017 at 06:22

Saturday, Mar 04, 2017 at 06:22
"It's a shame truck drivers don't seem to get their head around the height of their trucks."

Especially at Bridge st, Chemler on the way to Rocklea markets, they resurfaced the road years ago and didn't alter the clearance sign. I didn't get my head around that one.
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Reply By: Member - Bigfish - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 20:06

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 20:06
Just shows the mentallity of some caravan owners. 60+% overloaded!! Abysmal.
AnswerID: 609065

Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 20:31

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 20:31
Correct Bigfish, but what is the percentage of travelling 4x4's that are way overweight. By eye, I see many that are way overweight, even though they have the big springs or airbags.

So what is the mentality of overloaded 4x4 owners. Just sayin.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 21:33

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 21:33
I reckon that most people who fit "big springs and airbags" need to fit them because they are overweight. How many of you out there have suspension upgrades and have put their rigs over a weighbridge?
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Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 07:36

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 07:36
Most put big springs and wheels on for ground clearance ..not to put more gear in their vehicles. I agree , there will be some that will be overweight. By how much I dont know. But I,ll bet that with the number of 4wds getting around the streets, highways and off road its not 60+%. The issue of overweight caravans has been around for many years yet many ignore advice to weigh their rig. Most are well aware of their illegal practice but chose to ignore it because mobile weigh stations are not that common. The manufacturers are also to blame I feel every trailer and van before being rego,d should have a weighbridge certificate that is only a fortnight old at most. Most vans advertise by manufacturers would be over weight
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 08:42

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 08:42
Love to see a set of scales at the start of Cape York, GGR and Simpson, Central Rd, Gunbarrel, Anne Beadell and so on. That might open a few eyes.

Not picking on 200 series, it is just an easy vehicle to use. Tare 2740kg. Gross 3350kg. Now fill he tank and allow for the 10 litres that was calculated into the tare 128kg + 2 people 160kg and the base weight is now 3030Kg rounded off. This is before anything is added. 320 kg left with no accessories fitted or gear loaded.

Some take the time to make sure they are not overweight, but many just keep putting on accessories and throwing everything in that will fit. Have a look through the windows and cast an eye over the accessories and also guess what weight is over or behind the back axle. It doesn't take much to do some mental sums and come up with a big red warning flag.

Wonder if the same fines applicable to heavy transport will be applied. Up to 5% over $1100 first offence. 5 to 20% over $2200 first offence. over that $5500 and $550 for every 1% above.

These penalties may open a few eyes and have everyone have a look at their weights on all vehicles. Remember this also includes overloads on individual axles.
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Follow Up By: Batt's - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 03:38

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 03:38
Nomadic if you load most vehicles on the road new or old with standard suspension up to or near it's max legal gvm their suspension will not cope safely with the extra weight. They sag in the rear and lean on corners to much and this will shorten the life of the springs if it's loaded up most of the time. Just putting 5 adults in a vehicle can sometimes see the rear end starting to noticeably sag that's before you put gear in the boot. Same goes if you tow a light camper trailer or a box trailer with gear in it loaded correctly. Most factory suspension is designed for driver comfort and not load carrying ability.

So when you add heavier springs to a standard height vehicle they will support the legal gvm correctly and make the vehicle much safer to drive. It's got nothing to do with their vehicle being overweight that's just a mind set that people have when someone actually changes something to make their vehicle safer to operate and others don't understand why or just dismiss the whole idea that anyone can make improvements that are safer than what the manufacturer should have done in the first place.

Also if a vehicle has a lift kit fitted it is recommended that they run heavier springs to help compensate for the extra height which is usually 50mm.
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Reply By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 20:50

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 20:50
Its a major problem and potentially very expensive for many van owners.

I weighed my ball weight and found it was 300kg instead of 250kg.

Even though the van sits level with HD rear springs, air bags and WDH bars on a 2007 diesel Prado, I am overweight.

I have 2x 4kg gas bottles, chairs and a table under the front bed, an empty 95 litre water tank in front of the single axle and both the AC unit and solar panel mounted on the rear of the van roof.

Question - apart from changing my tug how do I reduce that overweight?


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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 21:35

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 21:35
Leave half your loading at home.
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Follow Up By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 22:15

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 22:15
Not helpful.

I have reduced my loading but that's not going to reduce the ball weight.

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Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 07:44

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 07:44
To be honest Bill I would get rid of the van. 300kg is like having 1 and 1/2 200 litre drums full of water sitting on the towball. Just plain dangerous. Hitting any sort of decent bumps or corrugations would see that 300kg become a hell of a lot more due to downward pressure. I suppose getting the van rengineered to move the axle or doing an upgrade on the prado is the only way out. Could prove expensive but at least your insurance would not be void . The reason I have a camper trailer and not a van is because of the weight issues. . Mind you some of the new chinese campers have tow ball weight of 200+ kg on a camper trailer!. The onus is on the driver to ensure his rig is legal and safe.
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Follow Up By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 09:43

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 09:43
Thanks BigFish.
Problem is that its a new van; 6 months old. Not keen on losing money just yet.

I will ask a van repairer if the axle can be moved but I think it will be a problem with the wheel arches. But then it doesn't have to be moved much. (I did it on a boat trailer)

Not sure what they can do as an upgrade on the Prado seeing as I already have HD springs, air bags and a replacement towbar.

The van sits well and rides without any bouncing or swaying. Just sits there. My mate has a similar van; heavier (he has a full ensuite) on the back of 2002 Prado, and his bounces up and down on the smooth 4 lane highways.

Of course the unit used to weigh the tow hitch could be wrong. It was a Supercheap special.

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Follow Up By: TomH - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 17:37

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 17:37
Why dont you take it to a proper weighbridge then and weigh the whole rig properly
Drive on with just the van wheels on the scales Get the weight Back it up and unhook, weigh the whole thing axles and jockey wheel get that weight Subtract first weight from that one will basically give a more accurate weight than the Supercrap special.
Cant upgrade the tow capacity of the Prado Can upgrade the GVM (Maybe) but that wont increase the tow capacity and may in fact lower it, depending on your GCVM.
Sounds like a poorly designed van and had you specifed the max loaded ball weight in writing before you bought it you may have had a case against the dealer. What is the ATM of your van

The Prado is noted for its low tow limit. I had a similar problem with a Patrol.
Made the mistake of buying the tug before the van. Bit the bullet and sold it and bought a 100 Ser Cruiser Best thing I ever did

Sounds like your mates suffers from too little ballweight and if so would be dangerous to say the least.
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Follow Up By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 20:28

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 20:28
Thanks Tom.
I will do the weighbridge visit. Thanks for your guidance.

ATM is 2500kg.

The van is an Elite and I think parts of it are not built well from a design point of view. I will make a polite enquiry and see what they say.

Don't think I can tell my mate; he is a bit of a 'no it all' and ignores any advice. eg doesn't think you need extension mirrors.
I was always concerned about the weight through the build process. His van, same as mine, has a full ensuite, in the rear. Whereas mine has a combination shower/toilet located in the middle of the van over the axle.

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Follow Up By: Batt's - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 03:47

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 03:47
Maybe repositioning the water tank back further it would be better to drive if you could get it down to at least 150 kg or less so the van is supporting it's own weight more like it should be. I done that with an old 16' jayco pop top van I had yrs ago and after a few other changes I ended up with an 80kg ball weight which gave the whole set up a very good ride it only weighed approx. 1,400kg loaded.
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Follow Up By: TomH - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 09:25

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 09:25
Actually the kitchen and fridge is probably the heaviest part of the interior of a van. A front kitchen van is often heavier on the ball than a centre kitchen in the same model. Amazing how much stuff can be hidden away in the cupboards and it all adds up.
A van of that weight is always likely to have a ball weight of over 250kg when loaded. To be perfectly honest running right on your Prados limit is not a really good idea.
As far as the post about heavy ballweight is concerned we travelled for nearly 2 years with a 25ft van with everything that weighed 2900kg and had a 300kg ball weigh and never had a moments trouble as regards to towing. Match the tug and van and it will be OK Our tug was rated to 350kg ballweight and I did regular checks of all mounting bolts to ensure we didnt have problems.
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Follow Up By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 10:03

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 10:03
All good ideas.
My van has the fridge, toilet compartment and kitchen over the axle, so that part has been thought out. AC unit and solar panel located at the rear of the roof. I have also mounted 2 spares on the rear bar and replaced the 9kg gas bottles with 2x 4kg bottles.
The front water tank was empty on weighing also.

It looks like a better designed axle location on the chassis would have been a good idea too. Not sure whether moving it is an option. Will be seeing a repairer soon, so will ask then.

The setup now, seems to be OK, as the tug and van line up almost level without the WDH bars on and there is not a lot of tension on them. My wife can lift the bars and hook them up. (Nothing sexist here, just that at 65 she is not as strong as she was)

It tows well too. I have experience with a 20' boat and several caravans, so am aware of what's going on when driving.

Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions. This is what the Forum does best.

Bill B

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Follow Up By: Kazza055 - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 10:33

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 10:33
One thing I did to reduce my ball weight which was well over 350kg, was to move the 2 batteries from the front boot and have them mounted from the chassis rail just in front of the wheels. Even one battery being moved back there should reduce the ball weight by 10-20kg.

Only thing to watch is loosing the stability of the van so as I did, just make one change at a time and make certain you are still stable.
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Follow Up By: Batt's - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 14:23

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 14:23
Moving heavy items that have a lower centre of gravity would be better over all and usually they don't have to be moved very far. It's lot less stress on the chassis compared to adding items on the rear to compensate for a heavy tow ball weight. I also took my 2 spares off the rear it was replaced with a split system a/c which was actually a bit lighter the spares and the brackets they were mounted on they ended up under the front bed approx. 2.5mts behind the tow ball put the batteries over the axel. But some items are easier to move around in older vans because they had less gear on them to start with.
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Reply By: Drew - Karratha - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 22:06

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 22:06
I realise this was an awareness campaign, but were those who were illegally loaded allowed to be on their merry way to wherever they were going - still illegally loaded??
I feel that anyone who was not legal should have had to make alternative arrangements to get their van home to protect other innocent road users(at the very least!)....
AnswerID: 609073

Follow Up By: TomH - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 09:44

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 09:44
Instead of feeling whatever, go to the Caravaners Forum and read the article by the Officer who actually did the exercise. Is very informative and answers your question.
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Follow Up By: Drew - Karratha - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 18:46

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 18:46
Thanks mate, can you provide a link to the article - I had a look on caravanners forum, but couldn't find it...
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Follow Up By: Kazza055 - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 19:22

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 19:22
Here you go all 22 pages of it
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Follow Up By: Drew - Karratha - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 15:33

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 15:33
Thanks for the link - it is a very interesting read!

First - well done to Graeme (hope that spelling is correct) and others involved in taking on something that I think (and the stats from their awareness campaign confirm) is a huge risk to the safety of other road users.

Hopefully enforcement will start to happen as people become more aware of the laws (which I am sure many already are...).

It is very interesting about Camper Trailers - especially today being the start of the long weekend, and thousands of them heading south with bikes, boats, kayaks etc strapped to them everywhere, and the tow vehicle loaded to the roof.....
Hope everyone returns home safe!
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Reply By: duck - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 16:34

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 16:34
The manufactures have a lot to answer here as well

A friend of mine put a deposit on a motorhome with a major supplier (Winnebago & the model was a Burleigh) it was a 6 berth & legal seating for 6 but was only 90kg off its max weight with No people, no water, no gas, No diesel, NO food etc. etc. & they were quite happy to sell it to him on a std licence the 1st time he would have used it. It would have been illegal, lucky he asked me to check the specs as he wanted to fit a alloy bull bar & a bike rack & they told him they could not fit them until after rego or it would not pass or he could get it passed as a truck with a LR or MR licence

This model van is rented out all the time to travellers & again the moment it leaves the yard it would be illegal & the hire company's must know there illegal & I bet most of the drivers do not have a LR licence

AnswerID: 609094

Follow Up By: TomH - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 20:18

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 20:18
Yeah exactly A resident in our village bought a second hand 27ft motorhome.

I asked him if he had an LR licence He said dont need one its tare is just under 4500kg. I said do you drive it empty with no one in it then. He got all snarky when I said read the regs and any idiot would know you go on the loaded weight.
He had driven it 600k from where he bought it with no licence and was quite upset when I was proved right and him and his wife had to do the LR test. Retired pen pushers know everything. Not

If your friends Winie wasonly 90kg under max it would be illegal to drive on the road as it would be over its GVM never mind the licence class. Insurance company would love him.
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Follow Up By: duck - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 09:02

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 09:02
Tom there would be no insurance & no legal rego & no legal insurance & no legal licence
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Reply By: The Bantam - Sunday, Mar 05, 2017 at 12:46

Sunday, Mar 05, 2017 at 12:46
The idea that roadside inspections of caravans is a myth could not be further from the truth ...... same with roadside inspections of modified 4wds.

QLD police and QLD transport have run a number of very high profile operations over the years.

Back before pretty much uniform towing regulations, there where a couple of operations just north of the QLD NSW border that had north traveling caravanners in peak season turned around by the score, because they did not comply with QLD regs.

There have been a number of stop everything inspections near the Whitsunday turnoff over the years.

There was an operation at Tewantin a year or so back, targeting 4wds comming off the beach after a long week end ....... lots of 4wds parked up and had to be trailered or towed.

A number of well know traffic operations near Landcruiser Mountain park.

QLD poilce and transport conduct regular roadside inspections all over the state and have the ability to weigh by the road side on any hard flat surface and have the staff and mobile facilities to inspect pretty much anything .... and do.

With people traveling such long distances ....... what ya gona doo if ya rig is given a pink ticket and declared unsafe to travel 1500Km from home. ....... the $$ thousands in fines will be a minor detail.

If the government sees a funds raising opportunity here ..... with 60% of rigs overweight ...... it could be on for young and old.

SO .... are you feelin' lucky .... well are you.

AnswerID: 609171

Follow Up By: TomH - Sunday, Mar 05, 2017 at 13:45

Sunday, Mar 05, 2017 at 13:45
If your rig complies in your home state it cannot be faulted in another state provided it complies with laws such as weights and linkages.
Eg an out of NSW registered rig does not have to have a breaksafe battery monitor to travel through NSW.

My Cruiser had a pillar pod for gauges Legal in QLD but not in NSW. Wasnt a problem.
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